More repercussions from River Plate’s relegation disaster Sunday.
Following the match, referee Sergio Pezzotta claimed that police did not guard the officiating crew’s locker room, and thugs from River’s Los Borrachos del Tablón approached him at half time and threatened that “if you don’t call a penalty for us, you won’t leave here alive.”
Those are serious allegations, and stadium security cam footage revealed today shows that, not only were the barra bravas able to approach the referee and his crew at half time, but they did so with the assistance of River Plate officials and stadium security (the guys charged with protecting the referees).
Pezzotta declared before a magistrate investigating the incidents that “at each match, the officiating crew has a special security detail off the pitch and in the hallway leading to the dressing room, so that no one can get close. When we opened the door and they threatened us, the police officers had disappeared, but they had been there when we came in from the first half. You ask me if I felt safe? The answer is no.”
One of the linesman, Javier Uziga, declared that had never experienced anything like that at a first division match before. “As easily as they were able to threaten us, they could have shot us. It’s unheard of. We’re used to seeing angry club officials coming near the dressing room, but barras who come in like it’s their house? Never.”
In addition to Pezzotta’s testimony, another witness claims he heard River Plate club secretary Daniel Bravo telling someone over the phone, “do it now, but do it quickly.” The magistrate will investigate whether Bravo was speaking to one of the barras, or merely telling an intern to bring him another coffee.
It’s worth noting that Pezzotta did in fact call a late penalty in River’s favor, but Belgrano’s keeper saved it. They couldn’t even take advantage of that gift.
If proven in court, the consequences for these actions are dire and could seriously complicate River Plate’s chances of regaining promotion after one season. First, the Estadio Monumental could be closed for up to 20 matches, meaning River would have to find somewhere else to play their home games for the duration of the season in Nacional B. Second, they could be docked 18 points to start the season. That could be enough to keep the club in the second division for two seasons.
As if this whole mess wasn’t enough, someone threw a molotov cocktail at the home of River Plate board member Daniel Mancusi last night. Fortunately no one was hurt, but Mancusi will probably need to replace his front door. He also told the press that the home addresses of River’s board members are circulating on the internet. The attack was probably intended to pressure club president Daniel Passarella to resign.